The Cure

4:13 Dream

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4:13 Dream Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

4:13 Dream may open with the doomed romanticism of "Underneath the Stars," but that slow-crawling mini-epic is a feint, momentarily disguising how this is the Cure's poppiest album since 1992's Wish. Poppy doesn't necessarily mean that 4:13 Dream spills over with fully formed pop songs along the lines of "High" and "Friday I'm in Love," as the 13 songs here lack the tight construction of those two minor classics, along with their beguiling light touch. Despite the preponderance of sprightly tempos and singsong hooks, nothing about 4:13 Dream feels especially light, perhaps because Robert Smith chooses to pair these purported pop songs with a heavy dose of affected angst. On the "The Reasons Why," the catchiest tune here, Smith sings about suicide with no trace of irony, or even that much interest, either; it's hard to escape the notion that he sings about darkness because that is what is expected from the king of goth. The pristine production emphasizes Smith's stylized mannerisms -- nowhere more so than on "The Only One," where his caterwauls feel too clearly articulated -- which in turn highlights that for all the purported pop of 4:13 Dream, only "The Perfect Boy" and "This. Here and Now. With You" have hooks that dig underneath the skin. These two songs are buried in the back of 4:13 Dream, surrounded by too many half-baked tunes and formless, colorless sound surges on either side, music that perfectly fits the definition of the pop side of the Cure without ever truly embodying the spirit.

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